I think that one of our collective failings as Black peoples in the west has been our collective choice to move away from understanding class, class divisions and class oppressions consciously, critically.
was a moment, a time when the forefathers and foremothers did not
concern themselves with whether those who wanted to see their defiance
stopped called them communists. I think that if they weren't fully
communists they were definitely, as conscious working class people who
understood themselves as revolutionaries, whose goals where collective
and (truly) left rather than hierarchical and right of center or extreme
right, communist sympathizers who were powerfully allied with working
people led movements for change around the planet.
thought and wrote about how their Blackness combined with their class
location in ways that pitted them in direct struggle with members of the
upper classes regardless of ethnicity. They could sniff out a jive ass
sympathizer/collaborator of The Man and did not assume that just because
someone was Black that they were on the side of revolution.
few years back I came across a conversation on youtube. It was between
some premier Black academics. Two men and one woman. All very highly
respected. All very well known. One of the men and the woman, who is a
premier feminist thinker, engaged in conversation about Black community
in the time of crack.
Class came up...sort...of.
was brought up by the male academic who is very well known for
trumpeting the praises of Black people presenting as heterosexual,
married, middle class as a way to "uplift" our peoples. He said (and I'm
paraphrasing and interpreting here, which means that your reading of
what occurred might be very different and that you're welcome to it, of
course) that he thought there were two Black communities. One was the
desperately poor drug riddled one. The other was the community of those
who had high paying jobs, houses, property, vacations, good schools for
said that the latter had a responsibility to the former because it was
basically the besieged remnant of the home place the more affluent folks
had been nurtured by and had emerged out of.
Black feminist academic seemed to my mind to have an indignance juiced
meltdown. Her words came very quickly, fairly spilling out of her. To me
she seemed to not be really interested in engaging with what her
co-conversant had said, much more interested in making sure she proved
him wrong. Very, very binary. Very unacademic, not at all philosophical
or interested in the exchange of ideas. Just sort of...peeved that he
swore that she didn't know anything about two Black communities and
that for her there was only one. She said that her links to the whole
community were strong and that despite being a world famous author, who
most likely (I'd think) has tenure at a very well respected and high
paying university far, far away from any Black people's communities, she
powerfully connected with everyday Black communities all the time.
did, however, add that she knew many successful careered Black people
who were one paycheck away from the street. And that this whole notion
of there being a set of more well positioned, more powerful, dominant
Black people who might be trying to scrape the privileged Black
communities off their shoes like so much sticking, stinking shit, was
news to her.
struck me about this conversation between these highly educated Black
author academic intellectuals, was the blatant lack of consciousness
about the workings of class, classism, class division, class war, class
stratification they displayed. It was sad the way they reached for
language and analysis to describe a situation on the ground that their
class privilege had so distanced them from that they were not even able
to agree that there was an issue here, numerous issues, in fact, that
needed to be teased out and discussed in the open that would probably
embarrass and call to task people who had found a way to access
privilege beyond race.
ideas and conversation were rudimentary, stumbling, exposing on one
conversant's side an inclination towards filtering the issues through
hierarchy and the oppressive dynamics of charity. On the other side
textbook denial serving as cover for a positioning of the Black middle
class as oppressed and endangered rather than living beyond its
collective means and in need if a radical revolutionary anti-oppression
re-org, was clear and present.
of those speaking was even able to address conditions in Black working
class, working poor communities. They weren't even in agreement about
the importance of class or class analysis.
conversation was difficult for me to watch as someone who was raised
working class, working poor who has in a variety of different ways
middle cllass/ed, yes, through education, familial alliance,
relationship and who does quite clearly see the discrepancies and holes
in what they were each saying. It is the fact that I bear no love for or
loyalty to the middle class of any ethnic/cultural/national group of
people that opens my mouth.
suspect that it was their love for and loyalty to their own middle
class privilege as career'd and status'd Black people that kept them
stumbling for words that would not implicate them and their
participation as Black middle class people, in systems of domination
that keep other Black people in their place.
this to say...I think that one of the reasons Barack Obama, the
murderous, war mongering, dissimulating buppet of Wall Street, was voted
into power was because the Black middle class were manipulated into
seeing themselves, their wimminfolk, their children, their lifestyles,
their dreams, their goals for themselves and for their communities in
him, his relationship with his wife, his children, his family life, his
success, his status, his very existence.
of what his campaign careful marketed with the brand phrase "YES WE
CAN!" combined to trumpet to those who identify with class privilege,
status and hierarchy in Black communities, that he, his family and his
administration would open more doors to the halls of wealth and power
for the Black middle class.
this particular campaign strategy only worked and only continues to
work because the folks who were supposed to be adept not just at
speaking about race and racism but also about how white domination goes
hand in hand with class dominance, creating and then utilizing to
maximum benefit middle class buffers of snitching, disdainful,
tsk-tsking, gate keeping, ambitious, carrot chomping, oppressive working
class people who have been pretty much lobotomized into forgetting who
they actually are. In other words, they have been offered incentives to
forget who they actually are. Then they have re-branded themselves to
others as separate, different, better quality and caliber folks than the
people they came from.
one job whether it is in USian Black communities or in South African
Black communities, or in Caribbean Black communities or in Kkkanadian
Black communities is to keep those who are still understood to be
working class and poor so anxious about day to day survival, so
desperate to feed and clothe their children, so brokenhearted, self
blaming, shame filled, humiliated, impotently filled with depression, so
woefully attached to and dependent on the crumbs thrown to them by the
middle class...who get their crumbs from the upper classes, that they
have no time to realize they outnumber the wealthy, are just as worthy
of security, are capable of forging powerful alliances and rising up to
throw off the various oppressive boots on their necks.
problem is, that in a place like the US where the media is doing a much
better job of brainwashing and distracting amerikkkan citizens, the
middle class are starting to seem increasingly obsolete to the upper
Note: THIS IS NOT CLASS WAR.
middle class are not endangered as a class. Their class is a figment of
their imaginations so thoroughly delluded by the upper classes that
they actually understand themself as very close to upper class,
definitely not at all related to working class and poor people.
regardless of how any of the middle classes understand themselves, many
of them are no longer needed as an effective human buffer between the
upper classes and the working classes. For decades now in different
parts of the world the middle class has been destroyed. What people
describe as massive disparity between the wealthy and the poor in other
parts of the world is evidence of how the middle class was either never
allowed to really have a foothold or of how they have been completely
obliterated, sent packing back to their roots.
and now in north amerikkka many of those who have traditionally been a
part of the middle class or who have only recently been inducted into
the middle class are being served their walking papers with only a
handful of industries still on the payroll for the foreseeable future.
Even the teachers are no longer in such great number to mind mess and
MISeducate the working classes into self subjugation.
just as other communities of middle class people are starting to feel
the effects of no longer being needed as lackies, or rather of having
their support taken for granted by the upper classes, a new group of up
and coming middle class loyal worker bots have been offered legitimacy,
meaning, they have been offered an official entry pass into the hallowed
halls of relative class privilege via, you guessed it, marriage.
Clearly the Obama administration's employers understand that in the
coming years, having the loyalty of a new/er set of middle class voter
buffers in the form of gay and lesbian community, will be significant.
Perhaps they're concerned about having someone to keep queers who remain
alienated and dispossessed in their place? Yup. That sounds just about
for many people, the privileged gravy train of middle class privilege
is coming to an end. For many Black middle class folks the doors to the
gravy train only opened recently. So, I get that it stings and
frustrates many of us that the buffet is closing down just as we picked
up our plates or just after we managed to get a couple of servings. It's
scary because our lives and ways of being have been predicated on an
assumption that abundance beyond what we had been raised with would
continue indefinitely and that we, like our white counterparts, would be
able to accrue enough to safeguard generations past our time here.
THIS IS NOT CLASS WAR. The Black middle class has yet to divest itself
of it's belief in a classed system that benefits some but not others
that allowed them to come under the thrall of a snake oil salesman like
Barack Obama. When Black middle class people finally do remember who
they come from and stop craving the crumbs they have been offered in
exchange for policing and gate keeping...when they stop seeing
themselves as victims of the system and choose to understand themselves
as participants in the domination of their fellow Middle Passage
sibs...when they realign themselves completely with other Black people
who are resisting while struggling just to draw breath each and every
day, then and only then will we have class war.
if what you're reading here grips you, holds you, fascinates you, provokes you, emboldens you, pushes you, galvanizes you, discomfits you, tickles you, enrages you so much that you find yourself returning again and again...then link me.